A right Royal breakfast – Duchess of Spotswood

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I headed over the West Gate Bridge today and finally visited the Duchess of Spotswood, and I’m pleased to say it was well worth the wait, and every bit as lovely as I expected.  (If the truth be told I actually arranged a client meeting there JUST so I could try it out). A warm welcome when we arrived, and a strong and full-bodied piccolo, delivered with a smile, was a most excellent start to the work day.  Being the first day of the school holidays I had Junior in tow as well, so a good book, an excellent hot  chocolate and a serve of scrambled eggs meant he was extremely content.

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The good folk of the Duchess make the most of what’s in season, and despite many tempting treasures on the menu,  I ended with up the ‘Simple Pleasures’, a delightfully pretty plate full of asparagus, broad beans, kipler potatoes, with goats curd and perfectly cooked poached eggs. I may at this point admit to a slight bit of dish envy when watching what was delivered to other tables, but this in no way was to detract from my own breakfast which I enjoyed immensely – a light and delicate dish perfect for the unexpectedly warm morning.

ImageI left with a simple vow to return and work my way through the menu, which may take some doing, considering they also do lunch.  It’s a challenge I’ll be happy to take up.

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Silo by Joost

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I’ve already outed myself as a card-carrying member of the Joost Bakker fan club, after visiting the Greenhouse in Perth in 2011, and then hanging out daily at its temporary cousin at the Melbourne Food and Wine Fesitval in March this year (see here) so it will come as no surprise that I’ve been waiting eagerly for his latest project ‘Silo by Joost’ to open its doors on Hardware Street. 

Silo is setting the benchmark for a waste-free sustainable cafe model – there are no bins, milk is delivered in bulk, flour is milled on site for all their baking needs, and of course all the suppliers are local, organic and seasonal. 

The kitchen is headed up by Douglas McMaster, who holds the Young British Foodies award for ‘Most Irreverant Chef’, and you can watch him at work as the kitchen and communal table are all part of the same space, giving you an up-close and personal introduction to your meal.   Currently on the breakfast menu are coddled eggs with mushrooms, house-made muesli, porridge, toast, shortbread, and yoghurt, not to mention some sensational chocolate treats (breakfast dessert, anyone?).  Silo are also doing evenings from Thursday to Saturday, with salads, grains and soup, and a nice selection of good local plonk including beer, wine and cider.

Silo is run by the irrepressibly enthusiastic Danny Colls (ex Cafe Racer, Postal Hall, Liaison, Federal Coffee Palace etc). If you happen to catch Danny at Silo he’s more than happy to give you a tour, and the passion he has for this latest venture is infectious.  It was also lovely to see the same staff who worked so happily at the Greenhouse at MFWF this year, serving up breakfast at Silo the morning we visited, every bit as excited about this beautiful new venture as I certainly am.

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Marmalade and a whole lotta Soul

Now HERE is a gem. Owned by Raymond Capaldi (renowned chef of many years repute both overseas and here in Melbourne, not least including co-owning Fenix, and now owner of the very fabulous Hare & Grace in Collins St), Marmalade and Soul is located on Queens Parade in Clifton Hill, a stone’s throw from Brunswick St.

The first thing that hits you, aside from the gorgeous fit-out (thankfully not too cliched, with some nice vintage touches, and cleverly-designed light shades made from colanders and other kitchen utensils, as well as an open kitchen and a fabulous communal table) is the incredible menu.

I’ve never seen anything like it, and I eat breakfast out alot. Probably way more than I should. In any case, apart from a few staples, and an offering for the kidlets of either googie-eggs with soldiers or Coco-Pops, we were in uncharted territory. It was impossible not to succumb to the adventure. Presented with such confidence, the sheer balls of it had me going ‘hell yes, I WILL have some scrambled eggs cooked in burnt butter with curry powder’. Thank God I did because that, my friends, was some curry, eggy goodness right there. It also probably didn’t hurt that our waitress was ridiculously lovely, friendly and FRENCH, which meant when she recited the specials <yes they also have breakfast specials> we asked her to do them again, just to hear her accent.

The coffee was SPLENDID. I think it’s worth saying that again. Splendid. So good, I had 3 piccolos and was pinging off my head by the time I left.

But back to breakfast. Between us we also tried the caramelised orange and olive cake, with burnt orange custard, and maple bacon, and the corned beef jaffle with baked beans and salted egg yolk marmalade. My brain hurt trying to think about how this was all going to work, but BAM! Out it all came, on beautifully mismatched vintage crockery, my heart just told me to go with it and my tastebuds happily followed. Everything was fabulous. Loved it all.

Friendly welcome: check. Great service: check. Awesome coffee: check. An utterly original menu that makes you go WHOOOOO! Checkmate.

Good god. After a truly spectacular lunch at Hare & Grace last week with my new food partner in crime, and now this breakfast magnificence, I’m officially a Ray Capaldi groupie. And considering he’s kinda like a rugged Billy Bob Thornton, that may not be bad thing. Unless of course, you’re my husband. Shhhh!

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